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Honor boss George Zhao: we're shooting right to the top

Honor is still a rather young brand, but still strongly represented on the market, securing a place in the top five smartphone manufacturers across Europe and making strong inroads around the world. Holding a group interview at the View20 launch event in Paris, company boss Georg Zhao displays strong self-confidence.

2019 is quite a decisive year for Honor, and the signs are that it will also be a successful year. Growth was stronger in 2018 than in 2017, and the place in the top five of smartphone manufacturers that Honor achieved in 2018 now needs to be confirmed. It is only January, but the chances are good that Honor will succeed in this.

Honor still gets help from its parent company

Responding to growing competition from Xiaomi, Zhao emphasizes the similar roots of both companies: "We both come from the online sector and have the top five, maybe even the top three, in mind." However, Honor is more strongly positioned in stationary retail, with a weighting of around 50:50.

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The Honor View20 offers a lot of equipment for the money / © AndroidPIT

The parent company is, of course, helpful for Honor. As part of the Huawei Group, Honor benefits greatly from the development work of Huawei engineers, as well as from the Chinese heavyweight's relationships with retailers and local providers. Meanwhile, Huawei's current negative headlines don't seem to have affected Honor so far, even as the company falters in the US market thanks to its association with the parent company. Zhao also lets on about some internal matters: The recently arrested Huawei manager in Poland had "already been dismissed for his conduct". So the corrupt manager has been cut loose.

Honor, it is important to emphasize that you don't just sell slightly modified Huawei smartphones. The Magic UI surface, which has recently been used, will be further developed separately from Huawei's EMUI. Honor also makes its own decisions about hardware, such as the fingerprint sensor. It is still better at the rear and as a separate sensor, because the sensors integrated into the display are still slower and between five and ten percent less accurate, which is why they are still waiting.

Honor gets literally bigger

The fact that Huawei uses such new fingerprint sensors and Honor does not, however, is also due to the display technology. At Honor, there are still no AMOLED displays, and the backlighting of the LCD panels is a problem for the optical sensors that are usually used here. Ultrasound technology could work around this, but the fact that LCD displays are thicker than OLED panels would also have a negative effect.

For the new year, Honor has changed its lettering. "Honor" became "HONOR", so the letters became big instead of small. For Zhao, this is a symbol of the brand's upswing, which we remember did not start until the end of 2014, at least in Western markets.

What do you think of Honor as a brand and View20 as the current flagship?

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  • Honor Smartphone Hardware is exceptionally good for the price. I mean seriously, it is very nice, the display quality, fingerprint sensor, kirin CPU, build quality, A to Z everything.
    But they need to outgrow their typical Chinese mindset and should improve on software front. It is better than what it used to be, nevertheless there is lots of scope for improvement. EMUI's aggressive background app killing and the way it handles notifications hinders the way Android in its unmodified pure form is made to function. Aggressive saturation in AI photos and plastic-dolly effect in portraits is also seen.
    Further, unlike Xiaomi you cannot unlock bootloader and flash custom ROM.